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International Observers Spot Loopholes in Preparation for Feb Elections
Two foreign election monitoring groups on Tuesday enumerated loopholes in the preparation for next month’s elections by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and tasked the commission to bridge the gap.
They also urged various political parties canvassing for people’s votes in the February polls to focus on issue-based campaigns which they said should border on security, economy and governance.
The groups, National Democratic Inistitute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), made the appeal after a delegation of both groups concluded a five-day mission to Nigeria.
Led by former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose, the delegation urged INEC to urgently complete the distribution of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) to all eligible voters.
It also tasked INEC to urgently complete the procurement of card readers and simultaneously communicate relevant information on these issues to the electorate as soon as possible.
It also tasked the electoral commission to improve its communication strategy with voters to include daily press briefings and more frequent public service announcements – sometimes using local languages with a view to bridging communication gap on voting procedure and level of preparation for the polls.
The delegation also tasked INEC to undertake what it described as voter education effort to demonstrate to the public the use of new technology such as PVCs and card readers.
It also advised INEC to accelerate recruitment and training of polling officials, explore ways to increase voting by internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ensure that those who registered among them are not disenfranchised.
The group tasked the federal government to make all possible efforts to provide adequate security and necessary support for the conduct of the polls.
According to it, the security provision should reinforce security measures within the framework of the law without intimidation to facilitate the conduct of polls in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It as well urged the government to stress the constitutional obligation of security agencies and charge them to be professional and impartial in the discharge of their duties during the elections.
The group reported that unlike the three previous elections conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2007, the 2011 elections were successfully conducted, marking a “turning point in the country’s democractic trajectory.”